The apex court has held that Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal does not have independent decision-making powers, and is bound to act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
A big victory for the people of Delhi…a big victory for democracy…
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) July 4, 2018
“A big victory for the people of Delhi…a big victory for democracy…,” Kejriwal tweeted soon after the verdict.
His deputy Manish Sisodia termed the judgement “historic” and recalled the landmark mandate that the people of Delhi had given to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Assembly elections in February 2015 when the party won 67 of 70 seats.
The “historic mandate” given to a new party was for development, the welfare of the people and to facilitate the resumption of long-pending works, Sisodia said.
The apex court decision is a major victory for Kejriwal’s AAP government, which has been in a constant tug of war with LG Anil Baijal over the power wielded by the two branches of the executive.
The judgement pronounced by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who was heading a five-judge Constitution bench, also held that the LG cannot act as an “obstructionist”.
The Supreme Court said that except for three issues, including land and law and order, the Delhi government has the power to legislate and govern on other issues.
The LG needs to work harmoniously with the Council of Ministers and an attempt should be made to settle the difference of opinion with discussions, the apex court said.
Meanwhile, following his “major victory” in the Supreme Court in his bitter power tussle with Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will meet former Union minister P Chidambaram today to “thank” him for representing the city government as one of its counsel in the apex court.
“The chief minister will meet P Chidambaram in the evening to thank him. He was one of the lawyers who represented Delhi government in the Supreme Court,” an official said.
However, downplaying AAP’s victory proclamations over the Supreme Court verdict, former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Wednesday said the ruling that the LG is bound by the government’s advice was “not a vindication” for the party as “it has always been so”.
“There is no room for absolutism and there is no room for anarchism also,” the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court said in a unanimous ruling pronounced by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
Dikshit, who was the chief minister of Delhi from 1998-2013, said her government may have had differences with the LG, but there was never any “tussle”.
“We may have had differences. When the differences came out, after talking to each other we sorted out those differences,” Dikshit said.
Asked if the Supreme Court verdict that the LG is bound by the government’s advice was a vindication for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the senior Congress leader said, “It is not a vindication, it has always been so. We also ran a government for 15 years and whatever the Cabinet decided, the LG used to always agree to that.”
The LG has total control over land and law and order, but beyond that, he goes through the advice of the Cabinet, Dikshit said.
“I don’t see why it (the matter) should go to the court. There is a constitutional provision, Article 239 (AA) in the Constitution.. it says the Union territory, it is all clearly laid down then what is the conflict about.
“If you want to change that then go to Parliament and say that you want these changes,” the three-term chief minister said.
Talking about her experience of working with different LG over the years, she said, “We had four or five different LGs, but did not have a confrontation… because our first job was to govern and not have confrontations.”
Asked about the AAP demand for full Statehood for Delhi, Dikshit said it has to be decided by Parliament.